What an interesting media call Minister Pat Bell had on Thursday afternoon. It was one that was filled with both good news and bad news, and I’m not quite sure how to take it to be honest.
The good news, obviously, is that the northwest is projected to experience a significant increase in the demand for new workers in the next decade, an increase spurred on by new infrastructure projects ranging from the Kitimat Modernization to the Northwest Transmission Line to mines and, most assuredly, new projects to meet the increasing demand for BC products in the Asia-Pacific. As Minister Bell said, the next decade is going to be the northwest’s decade, and I don’t doubt that the projections for increased growth are going to be realized.
But at the same time the bad news is that there will be over a million jobs available in BC between now and 2020 and there may not be enough people to fill them all. It’s certainly something that can be attributed to the baby-boomers reaching retirement age and what appears to be a reduction in the size of families. A great example is my family – my mom came from a family with seven children and my dad came from a family that was in the double-digits when it came to kids. You don’t see that much anymore, except on TLC apparently, and even someone with four kids is considered to have a big family.
Just looking at the number of people approaching retirement age in the next 10 years in our region demonstrates that there will be a lot of positions becoming open in a variety of different businesses and professions. To be honest it’s the same story in pretty much most communities and regions I’ve lived in.
I’ve editorialized about this in the past, but the question becomes: If there are to be an estimated 750,000 jobs becoming available in the next decade due to retirement around the province, how do we attract the young people that are needed to fill those positions to the North Coast as opposed to somewhere more urban or with less of the wet stuff falling from the sky?
It’s an important question, and one I hope our elected officials (some of whom are also nearing retirement age) have put some serious thought into.
It’s great to say “Come to Rupert, we have x-number of jobs available”, but if other places are saying the same thing what is it that will make us stand out and be the destination of choice?